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Pink houses on South Dock Street (Sraid an Duga Theas) in Dublin.

21 Nov 2017

Posted in:  First Time Buyer

Fixer-uppers are the perfect project for some: those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, love a project, adore the chance to flex their creative muscles to mould a blank canvas into their ideal home. They love the challenge of transforming a space into something they can really call their own. But for most of us mere mortals, all we see is dodgy décor, or houses that seem to have been stripped of all their creature comforts.

If you do have your heart set on a house that does need some – or a lot of – work but don’t know where to start, there’s no need to panic. And certainly, don’t give up too easily – there’s hope for all of us! (Have you not seen Room to Improve?!).

So if your potential dream home is in need of some TLC, read on for seven of our top tips.

1. Open up the space

The way we live now has changed, and open plan rules. So yes, you might need to tear down a few walls to create a more modern flow. Older houses are often composed of lots of smaller spaces, designed for either storage, entertaining, or laundry purposes. These houses frequently had narrow galley-style kitchens and adjoining dining or utility rooms.

Nowadays, cooking is a family activity and entertaining is less formal. This means a spacious kitchen-cum-family room works really well for modern living. By removing walls you can make your home feel larger and you’ll actually use it all!

2. Be an eco-warrior

Okay – so it’s not necessarily the most exciting or glamorous part of the job, but you really should aim to make sure that the project is as energy efficient as possible. Speak to an architect or a home energy consultant to discuss possible improvements you can make to the house’s insulation, windows or heating.

Fixes you make at the outset like good quality windows, or installing a smart thermostat can deliver dividends for years to come. You’ll thank yourself when your heating bills are low and you’re toasty and warm during that Irish winter.

3. Value original features

Who doesn’t love a bit of age old charm? Exposed brick and beautiful features like coving and original ceiling roses are prized finds in period houses. Antique fire surrounds, solid flooring and cast iron radiators add incomparable character to a home. If you can, preserve them at all costs. These will increase the resale value of your home and add individuality to your space.

Realise that uneven walls can be fixed (or hidden), too. When looking at some old houses, you’d be forgiven for thinking that rulers weren’t invented at the time of their construction.

An issue that often arises with older houses is that thanks to a succession of owners over the years, layers of wallpaper and décor treatments can build up on walls. That’s great for telling the story of the property, but not so wonderful for that chic minimalist interior you were planning.

So should you find yourself dealing with uneven walls, you can discuss the option of having them re-skimmed with plaster with your builder. This should help with filling in any marks and dents, but if that won’t cut the mustard, copy top interior designer Roisin Lafferty’s bright idea: have custom made joinery designed, to help disguise the varying depth of the surfaces.

5.Think of storage solutions

Speaking of cabinetry, whether your house is old or new, there’s one thing we already know it needs: storage.

It’s like Netflix or chocolate – too much is never enough. Before making any decorating decisions, first consider where you can place a TV cabinet, shelving unit, toy chest or even a walk-in wardrobe. American-style pantries with walls of shelving are also worth considering if you have a large family – and the space to accommodate them.

6. Bring the indoors out

We’re not exactly blessed with good weather all year round here in Ireland, but that doesn’t mean we should overlook the importance of outdoor time. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes in the morning, getting some fresh air and outdoor relaxation time will have a huge impact on your wellbeing.

When tacking your fixer-upper inside, don’t forget to neaten up the garden too. A simple patio set and a few lanterns can make you feel like you’ve just gained a whole new room. Ideal if you’re short on indoor space.

7. Improve your curb appeal

Similarly, it’s easy to forget about the outside façade of the building when you’re focused on the indoors. But wouldn’t it be lovely to pull up in your driveway to a house with a weed-free kerb and foundations, freshly painted front door, exterior lighting and creeping wisteria? Touches like this can drastically improve the whole feel of the home.

Fixer-uppers can be a lot of work, but they are a unique opportunity for any avid DIYer. We promise the hard work will be all worth it!

Are you eyeing up a fixer-upper of your own?

If you are thinking about making a move, why not pop into our super-helpful Mortgage Masters who can let you know exactly what to do. Or why not check out our first-time buyer’s guide to help you along the way.

You can also book a 30 Minute Mortgage Meeting to talk to one of our Mortgage Masters and make that dream house a reality.

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The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.

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